By Miftaudeen Raji
Foremost Nigerian constitutional lawyer, Femi Falana, SAN has insisted that registering splinter academic unions of universities will neither dismember nor disorganize the striking Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
Falana made this assertion in an interview on Arise TV’s Newsday on Wednesday.
Recall that the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige on Tuesday, approved the registration of two new academic unions and ordered the newly registered unions to return to classrooms.
The two unions included the Congress of Nigerian University Academics (CONUA) and the Nigerian Association of Medical and Dental Academics (NAMDA), who according to Ngige, had declared their rejection of ASUU’s modus-operandi.
But, Falana described the registration as illegal and a desperate measure by the government to break the strike.
According to Falana, ASUU has been at the forefront of sanitizing the Nigerian university system looking for funding to power the universities.
He said, “Government has tried various measures but the latest one is perhaps going to embarrass the government because it is an illegal exercise and won’t work. ASUU is today one of the most organised and united trade unions in Africa.
“Under the current Labour Law regime in Nigeria, you cannot have two unions or three unions in the same sector. In other words, within the academia in Nigeria, there can only be one registered trade union that is the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) registered pursuant to the Trade Union Act as amended,” he said.
He added that the development will result in proliferation of academic unions, adding that the economy will suffer for it.
“We are going to have to have a mushrooming of trade unions, which threatens industrial peace in the country. We cannot have two unions in the university nor can we have two unions in other unions in the country. Politically it wont work,” he said.
He advised the government to return to the drawing table and ensure that proper advice is sought in order not to expose the country to ridicule.